Category Archives: Recovery

Cliff Walking!

Good is the Enemy of the best!

The holidays are here and for many, as it was for me in past years, the focus will be on their struggle with food instead of time with family. I remember a morning, sitting on the rug in my bedroom, worrying about the coming holidays.  The worry was not about money or emotional expectations. It was about how much damage I might do with the food and my weight before this holiday season was over. It was Halloween morning, I was thirty-something. I sat thinking,’Tonight is Halloween and I have a decision to make. Will I begin a two month binge tonight with candy, as I have done on many other Halloweens?  It won’t stop, the feeding frenzy, until some time after the new year. In fact, it might not stop untill after Valentines day. I could gain a lotWalking on the edge of a cliff!Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery of weight.’ I sat there thinking, I could go on a fast instead and loose the 30 pounds I need to lose. Or, I could take myself back to my twelve step program and do it with group support and a program of one day at a time. I didn’t know about the power of the AA Big Book at that time, or the real significance of the steps and how they would lead me to a right relationship with and a healthy dependence on God. I made the right choice. That night, I went to a meeting. That was ‘day one’ of a five-year abstinence from Sugar and flour and some respite from the disease of compulsive over eating.

Good is the Enemy of the best. Precarious sobriety vs Entire Abstinence is like that. While I have not had any sugar or flour for two and half years, for the last few months,  I have felt more and more that I am walking on the edge, the tip of the edge of a cliff, balancing to not fall off. I’m speaking of my abstinence. It’s not that sugar or flour are any kind of temptation. I’m neutral where they are concerned, thank God! For two and a half years, no ketchup, no ice-cream, no pizza and a resounding ‘No!’ to many other things. I don’t miss it! I’m free and it feels good. But I have friends who have wound up back in the food after years of abstaining from sugar and flour and they seem to be lost as to how it actually happened. Is it because they had a precarious sobriety (Pg. 21 of AA 12 &12) and they were not entirely abstinent (Pg. xxx, AA Big Book)?  Yes, abstinent from food they know they can’t handle like sugar and flour, but sloppy with regard to other things. Can you identify with what I’m saying?

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Bless Them, Change Me!

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sallyatari@gmail.com, sallyatari.com, Study

  God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot CHANGE,
the courage to CHANGE
the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference!

For over thirty years, I have focused on the words serenity, courage and wisdom when praying this prayer, just as this picture highlights the same words. How about you? But there has been a shift in my thinking of late. The key word has become change! This word is the crux of the matter for me! I needed to change. Let’s consider what the A.A. Big Book tells us about change; this word is used in a profound way and helps to  define ‘Recovered’ and what that looks like.

From the moment I first heard the word, “Recovered”, I wanted to go there! I wanted it so badly, it was like a splinter entered my skin. I wanted to live free, be free; to be set free! I was in a prison of sorts, I know that if you’re a “normee” (a normal eater) you think, “That’s weird! What is she talking about?” I don’t expect you to understand. But for all those who have struggled with addiction, you understand! From the start, for some reason, I considered ‘recovered’ a place to go, to reach; a trip that I must take! An island in the sun where I could walk free of the non-stop compulsive thoughts that swirled around my head about food and my next compulsive bite. And if I wasn’t thinking about food, I was thinking about what you and everyone else was thinking about me and worried, restless and irritable and so discontent with life. There was no peace. My mind was a back ally and so, I used food to get numb. Bill W. used alcohol. He, too, was in a quagmire, and it was of his own making too. His mind, like mine, was sick. How many walk around in this condition. I was one of the lucky ones who woke up. How many are sound asleep and have moments of lucidity from their stupor, be it ice-cream or gin? I’m not saying that eating ice cream is bad, but it was my drug of choice.

When I think about going to a far away land, I think about the many changes I will be confronted with: a different monetary system, a different language, a different time zone and even the need to change my watch settings and sleep patterns: a different culture and way of doing things, a change in how I drive, whether it’s on the opposite side of the street and/or cars with a change in the location of the steering wheel.    When we put ourself in a strange place, a strange land, we have to acclimate and make changes, to grow and work with new circumstances.  This is the essence of the changes that are required to become well  and live in the land of recovered.  This is what is required to get on the straight road as opposed to the crooked path we’ve been on! When Bill sees how his friend Ebby has changed, he says, “I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly reorganized. He was on a different footing. His roots grasped a new soil.” (Pg. 12-13) Could it be the land of Recovered that he spoke of?

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A Timely Pause!

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sallyatari@gmail.com, sallyatari.com, Study, The Power of a Timely Pause!

Pause, Ponder, and Pray!

“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” (Twain) When I was younger, I remember thinking, ‘the idea of waiting on God’ is, for me, not a happy place to sit.  I’m impatient and impulsive so waiting and pausing requires energy and even, concentration. Does anybody like the waiting room?   “As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves, many times each day, ‘Thy will be done’.” (A.A. Big Book Pg 87)

Breaking this down, I see a few important steps that lead to “Thy will be done” and an honest surrender of our will to do God’s will; a good solid trade for an infinitely wiser will, God’s will! Here are the steps to this piece of the puzzle:

1. Pause: this indicates not just a slowing down but the action of stopping! I’ve hit the pause button many times on machines. I haven’t hit the button on my lips as often as I should have. “We pause when agitated or doubtful…” There’s no better time to pause than when upset as the words spoken can be damaging and can’t be taken back!
2. Ask (Pray): this indicates prayer. We ask God for the right thought or action. Here is the turning point where instead of doing things impulsively or seeking an outcome that I willfully want-impatiently doing what I want, I turn, I ask God. Wow! This is new territory for me.
3. Remind myself (Ponder): Hello! Your best thinking got you here! Why not try something new; God’s will. Reminding myself is remembering or pondering my past and the many times I’ve tried things my way!(For more on pondering, see BB Pg. 10 and Pg. 56) and  What an opportunity to do things another way; pausing gives me time to stop and practice conscious contact and pray and then listen for a possible different way to respond or act. I’m not running the show anymore! I’m not playing God and I’m not the director of my life. I fired me! I’m choosing to stop running the show.
4.  Say: “Thy will be done.” White flag flying high, I surrender.

It’s interesting that sixteen years after these words were written,  the coauthor wrote another book (The A.A. 12 & 12, 1952) and said almost exactly the same thing! “In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say:”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.” (12 & 12, Pg. 41)

So much is said in the A.A. writings about the importance of guarding our mouth and the words that come from our tongue. We are warned over and over not to fight or argue (they are talking about what we do with our words!) On many of the pages of the Big Book, we are told, “the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only seemed to win. . . ” (Pg. 66). “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol.” (Pg. 84) “Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague.” (Pg. 98) And “. . .we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!” (Pg. 103) This is why we have to practice pausing. We have to! What I mean is,  I have to! It takes practice because my mouth has always been like a car in gear, ready to run! But i’m refining the changes that are so needed. I’m practicing the pause! (It’s like practicing the guitar; it takes hours of practice!)

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Step Three Prayer From My Heart!

Sure, I memorized the Third Step Prayer. . . Thy Will Be Done,  Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sally.atari@yahoo.com, sallyatari.com

a long time ago. But I didn’t make it my own (A.A. Big Book, Pg. 63). The ‘Step Three Prayer’ from my heart looks like this:

God,

I offer myself to you: I give up on running the show… I give up on playing God in my life…. I’m done running the show! Please, You be the director… the boss, the father I long for….

-Build with me

-Do with me…what ever you think is best! Because You know what’s best for me! You know me better than I know me!

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How Honest Can I Afford to Be?

The Use of ‘Word Camouflage’. . . 

 Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sally.atari@yahoo.com, sallyatari.comAs an Italian New Yorker (there’s that excuse again!), there are certain skills I was born with, or so I like to think! I have always been a ‘haggler’ of sorts; good at getting the price down on a new or used car, great at talking my way out of a ticket and most recently, talking my way out of a fine at the library. Oh, but the cost to my soul and my dignity! In fact, it has become more and more clear, that I cannot use my old tricks anymore if I am to be true to my faith and to my God. Ugh! Lying can take on so many forms. Exaggerating, minimizing, and lying by omission is lying too!  These are old tactics that I just can’t do any more. I don’t lie anymore and I guess it’s God that is bringing me to new levels of honesty.

I went to the library, my lovely local library. We have a most wonderful library in my neighborhood and you can rent all the movies you want – up to 50 for 7 days… who can carry that many? No, I didn’t try! But I usually take 15 movies when I decide to take them. And I take documentaries, old movies: westerns with my favorite men, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart and of course, Tom Selleck (my dream man); musicals that I don’t own, hall-mark ‘soupy’ romantic movies, the ‘goofier’ the better! I use these movies as noise makers because I get lonely and even if I turn off the sound, I enjoy the moving pictures of people on the tv. It’s a comfort zone. I do this with movies that I’ve seen so many times, I know what they are saying. Clark Gable in, “It happened one night” is a great example.

Ok, so I called my library yesterday morning to renew the 15 movies I had taken out about a week ago in case I couldn’t get to the library and I would incur a fine ($1 per movie per day). When I finally got through the phone system and jumped through the hoops with correct information (no small feat!) I learned I was one day overdue! I thought, ‘AAURG!’ I’m late! This is not good!’ So I called and spoke to a librarian and said, “Oh no, I’m late! Can you help? Can you do anything about the fine?” She said, I’ll renew them so if you don’t get here today, it won’t get any worse. When you come in, you can speak to a librarian and see if they will remove the fine.

I was so unhappy about this fine, I went right after work. The woman who helped me kept putting words in my mouth and I kept saying, “yea, sure, ok, yea!” But they were lies… but whose lies were they; Hers or mine? She said, “So you had trouble with the phone system?” (Yes, that’s true, I did, but today, not yesterday! I left that out! “Yes!”)  Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist, sally.atari@yahoo.com, sallyatari.comAnd it went on that way and I was praying and repenting right in the middle
of the conversation; ‘I’m so sorry, Lord. this is wrong!’ She removed the
fine and I said thank you. As I walked away, I felt terrible. I was arguing
in my mind with God, ‘Oh it’s not a big deal!’ I was wrestling with this. I wanted to walk away and just let it go, but I couldn’t! Because, yes, while
I tried to call in and avert the fine, I did it today and not yesterday and so
I had a fine. I couldn’t live with it! She was asking questions and answering them for me and I was agreeing to all she said but it wasn’t true! Ultimately, my past behaviour of getting out of little messes was simply NOT OK anymore! Because I don’t lie! I strive to not exaggerate or minimize or fudge or ‘get out of’ by using ‘word camouflage’; all effective methods I have used in the past, but I don’t do that anymore. I can’t. It’s wrong and it creates marbles of guilt that I just can’t live with anymore. It’s the stuff I used to binge over, get numb over. A $15 fine. Ugh!

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